Director backs out of deal in favor of Strand

Tyro helmer Lance Hammer has backed out of a domestic deal with IFC Films for his Sundance drama “Ballast” and has instead made a deal with Strand’s Marcus Hu and Required Viewing’s Steven Raphael to release it. Both parties called the parting amicable.

The Mississippi Delta drama follows a family shattered by suicide.

In February, Daily Variety reported that IFC had picked up rights with a “six-figure deal plus gross participation and a real P&A commitment,” beating out three other bidders.

Hammer, who also wrote and edited “Ballast,” wasn’t dissatisfied with IFC but wanted to retain control of his movie.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed, but how can we not support him if he tries to take control of this himself?” IFC Entertainment veep of acquisitions Arianna Bocco said. “We wanted the movie, we love the movie, and we think that we would have done really well with it. It’s the first time that’s happened with us.”

“The budget was big enough that it would be hard in the current model to see that money back,” Hammer said. “In the old days, when distributors gave a larger minimum guarantee, that would have been a totally different story. Nobody can afford to do that anymore.”

Gameplan for the new distributors is to build on the momentum of festival praise before an exclusive Gotham release in the fourth quarter, expanding to 15-20 markets.

“You have to make a big impact in order to get those ancillaries to pay attention,” Raphael said.

Pic unspools this weekend at the Los Angeles film fest with Celluloid Dreams repping international rights.

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